This book had been on my must-read list for a while and with Russia commanding the news cycles these days it seemed like an opportune time to pick it up.
Red Notice is the true story of Bill Browder, an American financier operating in Russia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and was the largest foreign investor in Russia until highly placed and influential members of the Russian government decided to loot his companies for personal gain and to drive Hermitage Capital out of the country, and out of business.
He escaped Russia with his family, but as he fought back against the state-sponsored corruption, colleagues still in Russia were harassed, intimidated, and sometimes jailed. His friend and lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was jailed, tortured, and beaten to death by the authorities because he wouldn’t lie to wrongly indict Browder and his company in the thefts. This one event, more than any other, triggered Browder’s relentless crusade against the Putin regime, eventually resulting in the US Magnitsky Act which denies visas to, and targets the finances of, named Russians involved in Magnitsky’s incarceration and brutal death. Variations of that law have also been passed in Canada, the UK, and elsewhere. Vladimir Putin and his partners in crime are not pleased, but then that was the intent.
This is a true-life thriller that reads like fiction. It gives the reader a fascinating and frightening glimpse into what it’s like to do business (or politics) in today’s ‘modern’ Russia. Which makes one wonder why Western businesses continue to do so. But then, as in Browder’s heyday, there are billions of dollars to be made – it’s all relative.
A highly recommended read.